NCMA Recommends: James “Coco” Thompson, Durham, NC
Titus Brooks Heagins, James “Coco” Thompson, Durham, NC, 2003; printed 2004, inkjet print, 12 × 18 in., Gift of the artist
The photograph James “Coco” Thompson, Durham, NC is part of One God, One Faith, One Baptism by Titus Brooks Heagins. In this series the artist portrays different events and religious ceremonies at African American churches, including tent revivals, baptisms, and funerals. These spaces allow community members to engage in sacred cultural expressions and celebrate various aspects of life and death.
Heagins shows mourners gathered around a canopy under which James “Coco” Thompson is being interred. He represents the funeral service not as a sorrowful event but as a constructive time of remembrance of the deceased. The women lean forward toward the burial as they bear “the weight of [Thompson’s] memory.” Heagins captures the spirit of the moment through careful choices in perspective, contrast, and body language. —Maya Brooks, Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator
James “Coco” Thompson, Durham, NC is on view in the exhibition NC Artist Connections: The Beautiful Project, Stephen Hayes, and Hồng-Ân Trương through February 13, 2022.
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Photography during the Pandemic
Persevere, a CLICK! Photography Festival exhibition in the Museum Park curated by Jennifer Dasal and de’Angelo Dia, explores the question, “How did photography help you survive the pandemic?” Artists from across the country answered the call, and the NCMA is hosting photography events and workshops that encourage others to do the same.
- Saturday, October 9: Explore the art of portraiture with acclaimed photographer Titus Brooks Heagins in this workshop.
- Sunday, October 10: Tune in or attend the free CLICK! Photography Festival keynote lecture by Heagins, “Portraiture as Political Struggle.”
I’ll Be Seeing You
James “Coco” Thompson, Durham, NC explores the weight of memories carried by loved ones, particularly women, of those lost. The 1938 song “I’ll Be Seeing You” became a hit-turned-jazz-standard during World War II, when many were serving overseas. Billie Holiday’s recording with Eddie Heywood’s orchestra is one of the best-known versions of this sentimental classic.
Join us for a 35 mm screening of the Spike Lee coming-of-age film Crooklyn on Saturday, October 23, at 2 pm. The movie, based on memories of Lee and his siblings, tells the story of Troy, coping with rambunctious brothers, eccentric neighbors, and the challenges of being a young girl in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1970s.
Image © 1994 Universal Pictures